Time to combat mental health stigma in the churchMental Health
Heartlines has focussed on many different issues since we started encouraging people to live out Godly values in their daily lives. In recent years, the question of mental health has come to the fore, especially post the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s an issue that we cannot afford to ignore. That’s why, alongside our existing programmes around money values, relationships (What’s our Story) and families (Fathers Matter), we are going to be introducing a focus on mental health.
We started with research into mental health in South Africa last year, and found that stigma is still a major issue. Much of this is linked to a lack of understanding about mental health, and what it means to have a mental health condition. In Christian communities, there is a stigma around seeking professional help. There are several reasons why Christians may feel a sense of shame or guilt around mental health issues, including:
- The belief that mental health problems are a sign of weakness: Many Christians believe that their faith should be enough to help them through any difficult situation, including mental health problems. As a result, they may view seeking help as a sign of weakness.
- The belief that mental health issues are a result of sin: Some Christians may believe that mental health issues are a result of sin, and that seeking help is an admission of guilt.
- Lack of understanding: Many Christians lack a basic understanding of mental health and the benefits of seeking professional help. They may be unaware of the various resources and support systems available to them.
Despite these challenges, it is important for us to understand the importance of addressing mental health issues and seeking professional help when necessary. Here are five suggestions for how we can deal with the stigma around mental health and seek help:
- Educate yourself: Gaining a better understanding of mental health and the resources available can help to reduce the stigma surrounding it. Take the time to read books, attend workshops, or seek out counseling to educate yourself on the subject.
- Talk to your pastor or spiritual leader: Many pastors and spiritual leaders are trained to help individuals with mental health issues, and they can provide support and guidance in finding the right resources.
- Seek out a Christian therapist or counselor: There are many Christian therapists and counselors available who can provide support and guidance in a faith-based context.
- Connect with a support group: Joining a support group for individuals facing similar mental health issues can be a great way to connect with others and find encouragement.
- Turn to the Bible for guidance: The Bible is a source of strength and comfort, and it contains many verses that address mental health and well-being. Consider reading passages such as Psalm 34:18, Isaiah 41:10, or 2 Corinthians 12:9 for encouragement and hope.
It is important to remember that seeking help for mental health issues is a sign of strength, not weakness. We can find comfort in the knowledge that we are not alone in our struggles and that God is always with us, providing the strength and support we need to overcome any obstacle.
Masiviwe: Let’s be heard, is a movement for better mental health care for all; raising awareness; breaking stigma; learning to support ourselves and each other